Baysian Excess Variance (Bexvar)

The Bayesian Excess Variance (bexvar) is a statistical measurement of variability in Poisson-distributed light curves. Bexvar is a Bayesian formulation of excess variance. A brief summary of theoretical understanding of bexvar is given at the end of this tutorial.

The bexvar() method implemented in Stingray, provides posterior samples of bexvar given a light curve data as input parameters.
This tutorial is intended to give a demonstration of How to use bexvar() method implemented in Stingray. The method takes following input parameters. (Given here for completeness)
  time : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats, optional, default None
     A list or array of time stamps for a light curve.
  time_del : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats
    A list or array of time intervals for each bin of light curve.
  src_counts : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats
    A list or array of counts observed from source region in each bin.
  bg_counts : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats, optional, default None
    A list or array of counts observed from background region in each bin. If None
    we assume it as a numpy array of zeros, of length equal to length of src_counts.
  bg_ratio : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats, optional, default None
    A list or array of source region area to background region area ratio in each bin.
    If None we assume it as a numpy array of ones, of length equal to the length of
    src_counts.
  frac_exp : iterable, :class:numpy.array or :class:List of floats, optional, default None
    A list or array of fractional exposers in each bin. If None we assume it as
    a numpy array of ones, of length equal to length of src_counts.

Let us start by importing the bexvar module

[13]:
from stingray import bexvar

Now consider an example dataset.

[14]:
import numpy as np

time = np.arange(0,8)*100
counts= np.array([106, 87, 115, 148, 43, 129, 204, 87])
time_del = np.ones(np.size(time))*100
bg_counts = np.array([722, 696, 701, 721, 722, 703, 722, 695])
bg_ratio = np.array([0.01474, 0.01158, 0.01214, 0.01308, 0.010877, 0.01177, 0.01058, 0.01138])
frac_exp = np.array([0.37416, 0.21713, 0.37937,  0.50140, 0.11617, 0.39221, 0.64275, 0.31160])

Call bexvar function to get posterior distribution of bexvar.

[16]:

bexvar_distribution = bexvar.bexvar(time=time, src_counts=counts, time_del=time_del, frac_exp=frac_exp, bg_counts=bg_counts, bg_ratio=bg_ratio)
preparing time bin posteriors...
running bexvar...
[ultranest] Sampling 400 live points from prior ...
[ultranest] Explored until L=-2e+01   [-20.4040..-20.4040]*| it/evals=3622/5046 eff=77.9595% N=400
[ultranest] Likelihood function evaluations: 5051
[ultranest]   logZ = -24.86 +- 0.0784
[ultranest] Effective samples strategy satisfied (ESS = 1590.2, need >400)
[ultranest] Posterior uncertainty strategy is satisfied (KL: 0.47+-0.06 nat, need <0.50 nat)
[ultranest] Evidency uncertainty strategy is satisfied (dlogz=0.08, need <0.5)
[ultranest]   logZ error budget: single: 0.09 bs:0.08 tail:0.01 total:0.08 required:<0.50
[ultranest] done iterating.

logZ = -24.856 +- 0.156
  single instance: logZ = -24.856 +- 0.093
  bootstrapped   : logZ = -24.856 +- 0.156
  tail           : logZ = +- 0.010
insert order U test : converged: True correlation: inf iterations

    logmean             : 0.350 │ ▁ ▁ ▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▂▃▄▅▆▇▇▇▆▅▄▃▂▁▁▁▁▁▁▁ ▁ ▁▁ │0.575     0.461 +- 0.020
    logsigma            : 0.010 │▇▅▄▃▂▂▂▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁ ▁▁▁▁        ▁     ▁ │0.227     0.028 +- 0.018

running bexvar... done

The bexvar() method uses UltraNest python package to obtain the posteriors of bexvar. Ultranest gives a brief summary of log evidence (log(z)) and its uncertainties, and the parameter constraints.

We can then plot the samples to visualize the posterior distribution of bexvar.

[5]:
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
%matplotlib inline
plt.hist(bexvar_distribution, bins=20)
plt.ylabel("# of samples")
plt.xlabel(r"$\sigma_{bexvar}$")
plt.show()
../../_images/notebooks_Bexvar_Bexvar_tutorial_12_0.png

If the light curve is intrinsically variable, then the posterior distribution of bexvar should exclude low values. Users can compute the lower 10% quantile of the posterior, and use it as a variability indicator (see Buchner et al. (2021)).

The method uses fractional exposers (frac_exp) in each bin to compute the count rates (i.e.:math:~scriptstyle{R_i = C_i/(Delta{t_i}times f_i)}). In its current form it only considers time bins with frac_exp < 1. The bg_ratio parameter is used to scale the bg_counts to estimate counts in source region. The bg_count, bg_ratio and frac_exp are optional parameters, if they are not provided, the method defines default values for them as described in documentation.

Let us see an example to get bexvar distribution without these optional parameters.

[3]:
import numpy as np

time = np.arange(0,8)*100
counts= np.array([106, 87, 115, 148, 43, 129, 204, 87])
time_del = np.ones(np.size(time))*100

bexvar_distribution = bexvar.bexvar(time=time, src_counts=counts, time_del=time_del)
preparing time bin posteriors...
running bexvar...
[ultranest] Sampling 400 live points from prior ...
[ultranest] Explored until L=-4e+01   [-36.8486..-36.8486]*| it/evals=3615/5101 eff=76.8985% N=400
[ultranest] Likelihood function evaluations: 5125
[ultranest]   logZ = -41.34 +- 0.09729
[ultranest] Effective samples strategy satisfied (ESS = 1692.4, need >400)
[ultranest] Posterior uncertainty strategy is satisfied (KL: 0.46+-0.06 nat, need <0.50 nat)
[ultranest] Evidency uncertainty strategy is satisfied (dlogz=0.10, need <0.5)
[ultranest]   logZ error budget: single: 0.09 bs:0.10 tail:0.01 total:0.10 required:<0.50
[ultranest] done iterating.

logZ = -41.331 +- 0.174
  single instance: logZ = -41.331 +- 0.092
  bootstrapped   : logZ = -41.335 +- 0.174
  tail           : logZ = +- 0.010
insert order U test : converged: True correlation: inf iterations

    logmean             : -0.517│ ▁  ▁  ▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▂▂▃▄▆▇▇▆▅▄▃▂▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁ │0.383     0.020 +- 0.081
    logsigma            : 0.029 │ ▁▂▆▇▇▅▃▂▂▁▁▁▁▁▁▁▁ ▁▁▁▁▁   ▁         ▁ │1.236     0.213 +- 0.074

running bexvar... done

Bexvar: Theoretical background

This section provides a theoretical understanding of Bayesian excess variance (bexvar). This is an optional read.

Given a lightcurve data \({\scriptstyle 𝐷 = (𝑆_1,𝐵_1,~…~,𝑆_𝑁,𝐵_𝑁)}\) where (\(\scriptstyle{S_i}\)) denotes counts obtained from source region and (\(\scriptstyle{B_i}\)) denotes counts obtained from background extraction region in \(\scriptstyle{i^{th}}\) time bin. If it is assumed that the counts \(\scriptstyle{𝑆_𝑖}\) and \(\scriptstyle{𝐵_𝑖}\) can be expressed as Poisson processes.

\[\scriptstyle {𝑆_𝑖 ~ \sim ~ 𝑃𝑜𝑖𝑠𝑠𝑜𝑛((( 𝑅_𝑆(𝑡_𝑖) ~+~ 𝑅_𝐵(𝑡_𝑖) \times 𝑟)~×~𝑓_𝑖~\times~Δ𝑡)}\]
\[\scriptstyle {𝐵_𝑖 ~ \sim ~ 𝑃𝑜𝑖𝑠𝑠𝑜𝑛(𝑅_𝐵(𝑡_𝑖) × 𝑓_𝑖 × Δ𝑡)}\]
Here, \(\scriptstyle{𝑅_𝑆(𝑡_𝑖)}\) is source count rate and \(\scriptstyle{𝑅_B(𝑡_𝑖)}\) is background count rate in \(\scriptstyle{i^{th}}\) time bin.
It is further assumed that \(\scriptstyle{𝑅_𝑆(𝑡_𝑖)}\) is distributed according to a log normal distribution, with some unknown parameters (i.e., \(\scriptstyle{log(\bar{𝑅_{S}})}\), and \(\scriptstyle{\sigma_{bexvar}}\)).
\[\scriptstyle{log(𝑅_𝑆(𝑡_𝑖))~\sim~𝑁𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑎𝑙(log(\bar{𝑅_𝑆}),~ \sigma_{𝑏𝑒𝑥𝑣𝑎𝑟})}\]

This \(\sigma_{𝑏𝑒𝑥𝑣𝑎𝑟}\) provides intrinsic variability on log-count rate and it is defined as Bayesian excess variance (bexvar). The posterior distribution of \(\sigma_{𝑏𝑒𝑥𝑣𝑎𝑟}\) can be used to identify intrinsically variable object.

The bexvar() method in Stingray returns posterior samples of \(\scriptstyle{\sigma_{𝑏𝑒𝑥𝑣𝑎𝑟}}\) given a light curve data. The samples are generated following the same prescription given in Buchner et al. (2021). The method uses flat, uninformative priors on \(\scriptstyle{log(\bar{𝑅_𝑆})}\) and \(\scriptstyle{log(\sigma_{𝑏𝑒𝑥𝑣𝑎𝑟})}\) and obtains the posterior samples using nested sampling Monte Carlo algorithm MLFriends (Buchner 2016, 2019) implemented in the UltraNest Python package (Buchner 2021).